Back To School And Back To The Books

By Senator Patty Ritchie
As summer draws to a close and students return to the classroom, many turn their focus towards getting back to the books. Between the back to school shopping and first-day jitters, it’s important to remember to make use of one of our area’s biggest educational resources, our libraries.

Here in New York State, there are more than 7,000 public libraries, including more than 50 public libraries in Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. That’s one of the largest concentrations of public libraries in any Senate district in the state.

As a member of the recently re-formed State Senate Select Committees on Libraries, it has been a priority for me to support these outstanding educational resources.  Just this week, I was thrilled to announce that I was able to secure a second round of funding – $76,000  to be split between 24 libraries in Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.

This funding brings the total aid I was able to deliver to local libraries to more than $160,000; building upon an additional $85,000 in special funding I secured earlier this year, as well as a $4 million increase in state budget aid for libraries statewide.

With research showing an uptick in library usage, this funding couldn’t come at a better time.

Here’s a look at library use, by the numbers:

Americans check out more than 2 billion items annually from public libraries

68 percent of Americans have a library card

75 percent of library card holders use their library cards

There are more public libraries than McDonald’s (or Starbucks) restaurants in the United States

94 percent of American parents agree, according to a recent survey, that libraries are important for their children

Our area’s libraries are an outstanding educational resource, not only for students but adults as well.

As your State Senator, I am committed to increasing access to educational opportunities, entertainment, job-search tools and so much more at the many libraries throughout our region.

For full details on my efforts on behalf of New York State’s libraries, I encourage you visit my website,